Everybody loves a good Grapefruit. Okay, maybe not everybody, but a great many people do. The Pomelo (Citrus maxima) is thought to be the ancestor of the grapefruit. It's Grandfather if you will.
Pomelo pronounced [pom-EH-loh] is found spelled pommelo, pumelo, and pompelmous. It is also called Chinese grapefruit, and Shaddock.
Picture courtesy of Gourmetslueth.com
It is the largest of the citrus fruits with a shape that can be fairly round or slightly pointed at one end. They can grow to be as large as a foot in diameter and up to 25 pounds. Though I must admit, I have never seen one that big. It tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit. Like grapefruits, they can range from almost seedless to very seedy, from juicy to dry, from sweet to sour. Pomelos commonly have 16 to 18 segments, compared to most grapefruit that have about 12 segments. There is some labor involved in eating one, it is worth the effort to peel a good pomelo, skin the segments, and eat the juicy pulp. The skinned segments can be broken apart and used in salads and desserts or made into preserves. The extracted juice makes an excellent drink. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, or candied, then dipped in chocolate.
The pomelo is native to southeastern Asia and all of Malaysia, it grows wild on the river banks in the Fiji and Friendly Islands. It may have been introduced into China around 100 B.C. The first seeds are believed to have been brought to the New World late in the 17th Century by a Captain Shaddock who stopped at Barbados on his way to England. Hence the reason it is also known as a Shaddock. There are some 22 named cultivars of Pomelo. The Chandler is a Californian variety, with a smoother skin than many other varieties. It is probably the most widely known variety and available in stores today.
You can propagate them from seed. Seedlings usually differ little from their parents and therefore most Pomelos in the Orient are grown this way. Usually the best varieties are grafted or air layered however.
Pomelos may flower 2 to 4 times a year. Other than that, they can be grown just like any other Citrus tree. A unique quality about Pomelos is the fruits keep for long periods and ship well because of the thick peel. After 3 months, the peel will be deeply wrinkled but the pulp will be juicier and of more appealing flavor than in the fresh fruit. If stored too long though, they may become bitter.
I encourage you to find and try a Pomelo. Plant some seeds and grow one for yourself. Bear in mind however, the seedlings could take as much as 10 years to produce fruit. I'll wait.